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Rogue Justice News/Business. Drew Griffin. (2011) Drew Griffin looks into the audit on the North Carolina justice system which revealed cases in which evidence was withheld. (CC)

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Sbi 24, Greg Taylor 15, Floyd Brown 11, North Carolina 11, Us 8, Chris Moomaw 6, Isley 5, Greg 5, Chris Swecker 3, Cialis 3, Floyd 3, Fbi 3, Strawberry 2, Cooper 2, Kristen 2, At&t 2, Mark Isley 2, Raleigh 2, Pillsbury Toaster Strudel 2, General Roy Cooper 2,
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  CNN    CNN Presents    Rogue Justice  News/Business. Drew Griffin.  (2011) Drew  
   Griffin looks into the audit on the North Carolina justice...  

    July 2, 2011
    2:00 - 3:00am EDT  

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>> just this past webber, wenz did inmates jailed along with rudy gaday testified he told it happened in the dark of night. a wrong turn down a dead end road.
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it would end up costing him 17 years in prison. >> there's no way i could have committed that crime. >> a state bureau of investigation crime lab withheld evidence that could have set him free. >> floyd brown spent 14 years locked up for a crime he didn't commit. >> was there any evidence whatsoever linking him to the crime? >> no. the only thing that puts floyd in this case at all is the fictional confession. >> i think over the last 20 years, a culture has developed at the sbi that basically the ends justify the means. >> you'd hope these were isolated incidents. the more we dug the more we found that wasn't the case. >> you never anticipate anything like this. you always think that there's a sense of justice in the world and that the system works.
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it was september 25th, 1991, in raleigh, north carolina. and greg taylor was spiralling down a destructive path. a husband and devoted father with a steady job, he was fighting a losing battle with crack cocaine. >> i think there's two days that kind of summit up, which was the day before i was arrested i went to a pta meeting at my daughter's school. and then the next night i went out partying. >> actually i met greg in high school, dated through college and then got married. >> becky taylor says their marriage was on the rocks. >> i tried to break up with him like every three months, and then he would get better. and then we would go through that cycle for years. >> that night the addiction would get the better of him. he was watching a ball game with friends. >> when that baseball game went into extra innings, something clicked. i could go get a couple of rocks and that was all it took.
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>> as the game went into extra innings, greg hit the street in pursuit of his next fix. he found a local dealer, johnny beck. >> greg picked me up. we hung out all night buying drugs. and stopping to get beer. >> we ended up coming down here. we could see that it was dark, it was secluded and it looked like a pretty good place to stop and get high. >> greg and johnny beck spent an hour getting high in a cul de sac at the end of a dirt road. then greg made a move that would change his life. >> the urge kind of hit me to spin around in the mud a little bit on the way out. i basically went across the path and might have made it ten feet before i bottomed out in the ditch. >> so the truck stopped. we tried everything we can to get the truck out. the truck don't budge. >> it was just almost a relief, you know, that that truck was stuck.
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because i kind of took it as a sign that i don't need to be driving anymore that night. so we just took off walking. >> as they walked back through the cul de sac they saw what greg thought was a roll of carpet. >> i thought it was a mannequin laying there. i didn't think it was any mannequin. i looked back over my shoulder again, and this time what caught my eye was a hand. i said, i think that's a body. it might even be dead. >> greg was right. it was the body of jaketa thomas, a prostitute. the two men had stumbled across a gruesome murder scene. greg taylor wanted to call the police but johnny beck thought that was just asking for trouble. >> i said, knowing our pd, first thing we're going to do is accuse us. >> we had drugs on our person. i was driving without a license. i had been consuming alcohol. so there's a litany of reasons that i would not want to talk to the police in general. >> they walked out to the main road and eventually greg called his wife.
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>> so i got a call at 6:. i was kind of surprised that he hadn't made it home. and he said he'd gotten his truck stuck and needed me to pick him up or he said he just wanted to check on the truck and make sure it was still there. >> the truck was there. and so were the police. >> we pulled up, my wife and i, and there were police cars everywhere. i guess the realization hit me then, oh, yeah, we did see a body down there. >> once he saw the police and saw that his truck was still there he realized sooner or later they were going to find out it was his truck and they'd come looking for him. he might as well talk to them about something that might possibly help. never occurred to him they might be looking for him. >> jaketa thomas was brutally beaten, covered in blood. >> he answered every question the police had and gave them everything they want. there wasn't much we could tell. there was certainly nothing to hide. >> thinking he had nothing to worry about, greg offered hair samples and the clothing he wore the night before.
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he even said he'd take a polygraph terror threat. >> when in that questioning which became an interrogation did you realize, hey, wait a minute, i just came in here to get my truck. and they're looking at me as being involved with that body. >> basically he says, i have a choice whether i want to be a defendant or a witness. and to me that wasn't much of a choice because i didn't do anything and i didn't see anything. >> and what were they asking of you? >> essentially they were asking me to tell them my co-defendant committed the crime. and they would go easy on me. >> according to taylor, the raleigh police wanted him to point the finger at johnny beck, a known drug dealer. he refused. >> sometime in the early evening greg called and was hysterical saying that they were charging him. and it was so unbelievable. >> the charges against beck were
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eventually dropped, but greg went to trial. his mother and stepfather mortgaged their house to pay for his defendant, but greg's bad luck continued. the hotshot attorney they hired resigned from greg's case three months before trial and was disbarred for fraud and embezzlement, leaving little time for his new lawyer to prepare. >> he said this was the weakest case he had ever seen in his entire career. he was really confident they could get it dismissed so he wasn't going to offer any evidence. >> but the prosecution presented overwhelming evidence, an eyewitness who claims to have seen taylor with the victim, a dog that picked up the victim's scent in taylor's truck, a jailhouse snitch who testified that taylor confessed. but perhaps most convincing of all, scientific evidence showing blood on taylor's truck. it took the jury just two hours to convict.
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>> when that verdict came down, it was definitely a shock. >> it was a minimum of 20 years with no parole. >> it's like being punched in the gut. urance? host: do people use smartphones to do dumb things? man 1: send, that is the weekend. app grapgic: yeah dawg! man 2: allow me to crack...the bubbly! man 1: don't mind if i doozy. man 3: is a gentleman with a brostache invited over to this party? man 1: only if he's ready to rock! ♪ sfx: guitar and trumpet jam vo: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance. took some crazy risks as a kid. but i was still over the edge with my cholesterol. anyone with high cholesterol may be at increased risk of heart attack. diet and exercise weren't enough for me. i stopped kidding myself. i've been eating healthier, exercising more, and now i'm also taking lipitor.
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for 17 years, greg taylor sat in prison for a murder he consistently claimed he didn't commit. for much of that time, he slept here on bunk 23. >> in the beginning, there was almost a constant hope. and then there was that periodic hope. then there was no hope. >> this was his world. this is where he ate. this his only recreation. >> my goals were simple. finish this book. get this workout in. stay out of trouble. it's kind of funny that even though i had to be dependent on the prison to survive, at the same time you want to tune it out because the present is prison, right? >> greg cleaned up his life in prison. finally breaking himself of a decade-old drug habit. >> when i first went to prison and i earned all these degrees
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and i spent all this time studying computers and electronics and communications and networking, i felt like, okay, if this appeal goes through or this motion succeeds and i'm released then i'll be able to step back into my career that was taken from me when i was arrested. >> but he wouldn't be able to step back into his life. greg's wife becky divorced him, and his daughter kristen was growing up without her father. >> i can remember the first birthday i missed of my daughter's was her 10th birthday. and that first christmas i can remember thinking when she was 16 that she's driving now and i have to worry about her being on the roads and what not. when she graduated high school.
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and you just want so much to get out before the next one but you sit there and you're helpless. >> greg repeatedly appealed his conviction, going all the way to the supreme court. >> okay. after my u.s. supreme court appeal was denied, we started pursuing clem clemency and retained an attorney out of grens bro for that. two things he did, one of them was he gave a polygraph to my co-defendant and myself. another thing he did was file a motion for dna test. that motion for dna testing was denied. that effectively shut out any kind of avenues i had through the courts after that. >> then, chris moomaw came into his life. >> we get 750, 1,000 claims a
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year. we reject about 95% of them. >> moomaw runs the north carolina center on actual innocence, a last resort for those who claim they've been wrongly convicted. >> they'll write us a letter. we send them a questionnaire and a release. so if they're willing to take the trouble, and i'm pretty sure anybody who's innocent will take the trouble to fill out that questionnaire. >> greg wrote her in another desperate attempt to clear his name. >> i was given a summary of greg's case that was written by greg in his own words. and that was incredibly compelling. >> why? >> well, he was offered a plea. they came to him and said, all we want is for you to give us johnny beck and you can go home. i don't know of any co-defendants who wouldn't turn on each other if they were guilty for the chance to go home. >> why didn't you do it? >> as silly as it sounds, you know, what i told them and the way i put it into words was that
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i could still look in the mirror and you're not taking that away, too. you know? i didn't have anything else left. i had already lost my family, my job, my house. my daughter. and what was lying going to get it back? >> chris moomaw spent two years investigating greg's story. >> she's like the answer to my prayers for the ideal attorney to come into my life. i mean, i read 833 books in prison. and a whole lot of it was crime fictions. and you've got an attorney that actually digs and does the work and gets it right. >> she and her team reviewed documents, and the main witnesses who turned out to be less than reliable. slowly the state's case unravelled. >> you had a jailhouse snitch who admits that he came forward because he was hoping to get help with his sentence. you have a prostitute who had
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charges dropped. you have a dog that was never trained to do what they said it did. no fingerprints from her in the truck. no fibers on her from them or on them from her. no blood transfer whatsoever. and this was a bloody scene. this was -- there was splatter on the street. and she's got bloody finger smears on her arms. somebody had blood on them when they touched her. so the physical evidence, it defies science. it defies common sense. >> it was just a perfect storm of bad luck, you know, between the choices i made to get that truck stuck in the ditch, things that were out of my control, the tunnel vision on the police, the attorney i had that went to prison, the jury who decided it wasn't much to go on but yet convicted me anyway. >> in 2007, chris moomaw brought the case to the newly-formed north carolina innocence inquiry commission.
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it was the first and only government panel in the country created to free the wrongfully imprisoned. and it was here in this unassuming room that greg's bid for freedom would be heard. >> once the commission was up and running, and i knew the way it was designed to work was to get around those procedural blocks, to get around those walls that were keeping greg in. >> for greg's daughter kristen, it meant the possibility of getting her father back in her life. he had missed her graduation, her wedding, the birth of a son. >> did you put much hope or faith in this innocence project? >> a lot of hope. tons of hope. my hope lied that the people with the capabilities of making something happen actually would. >> they had subpoena power. they could get access to all the prosecution's records, all the police records, everything that the defense never had access to. and we couldn't get access to.
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they could order dna testing that greg was denied previously. and they did all that. >> the eight-member commission voted unanimously that there was sufficient evidence to prove greg taylor was actually innocent. >> so that opened the door for greg's case to get back in the courts. >> it meant greg would have one last chance to clear his name. >> to the very essence of who you are, you just hate just absolutely hate being accused of something like this. >> what he was about to find out would rock the justice system. evidence that would have changed everything and had been buried for 17 years. >> we had greg's innocence in our hands. discover customersl are getting five percent cashback bonus at the pump... and at many of the places their summer plans take them.
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in february, 2010, greg taylor walked into this courtroom. after 17 years in prison, it was his last chance to prove his innocence. >> you know, you get let down so many times in the courts that you just lose faith in the justice system. but yet you still cling to the truth. i had no clue as to how this hearing was going to turn out.
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>> convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years to life, greg faced a three-judge panel empowered to set him free. they would consider an unreliable eyewitness, an inaccurate jailhouse snitch, an improperly-trained forensic dog. but there was one more revelation to come. >> we were actually working on a sunday going through those boxes and trying to organize all the testimony into files and organize statements by witness and things like that. >> chris moomaw, director of the north carolina center on actual innocence, was one of taylor's attorneys, preparing for the panel she made a stunning discovery. a file that had never made it to trial from the state bureau of investigation or sbi's crime lab. >> we had been there for a good part of the day going through everything. and found the bench notes. >> what are bench notes? >> bench notes are the backup notes that go with that final
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report that's issued by the lab. so it's all the actual test results with the analyst is writing down as they're actually doing the testing before it goes into a nice, type written report. >> the nice, type written report stated there were chemical indications for the presence of blood on greg's truck. blood the jurors said was indisputable evidence of guilt. but lying in a box for the 17 years greg was in prison was a test the sbi never shared. a more definitive test that showed the spot may not have been blood after all. the jury never heard it. chris moomaw now had the document that turned the case on its head. >> we had that they had misrepresented what was on that truck. we had greg's innocence in our hands. >> at some point during your 17-year career inside prison, chris came to you and said, guess what? >> guess what?
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it wasn't blood. and it still amazes me when i think about it. because you just don't expect a lab to hide evidence. >> during his original 1993 trial, the prosecution referred to blood evidence over a dozen times. >> the reason why it kept me in prison so long is because the jury believed that that was the victim's blood on my truck. the prosecutor argued that vehemently to the jury. the jury bought up. the jury convicted me. >> greg's legal team brought the new evidence before the judges. >> i'm sitting there in the courtroom, and the three-judge panel and listening to this testimony. and still wondering, okay. well, how are they going to get it wrong now? >> in a dramatic moment, greg's lawyer asked the sbi agent
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responsible for the tests, duane de,ver, to clarify his bench notes. >> i can't say with scientific certainty that that was blood. >> but that conclusion was never presented at greg's original murder trial. >> so anyone reading your formal report would not have known that you could not scientifically confirm that was blood. >> that's correct. >> deever's explanation was even more shocking. he said what he did was a sanctioned practice at the sbi. in fact it would become written policy a few years later. >> you had an employee who was following policy. now, do i think that employee should have had a conscience? yes. do i think it should have bothered him that he wasn't reporting the full results? yes. in the end, is that ultimately where the responsibility should fall? i don't think so. >> we tried to find out who was responsible. agent deever was recently fired for his performance at the sbi
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and he wouldn't talk to us. nierd would the sbi's director. so we went to the man who runs north carolina's criminal justice system, attorney general roy cooper who wouldn't talk to us, either. >> after the new test results came to light, the prosecution offered to let greg go free. >> during the hearing they offered greg time served. they said, if you walk away from this process you can go home today. just walk away, time served, go on home. >> i turned it down. i said no. i want a chance to prove to everybody that i'm innocent. >> that surprised some people. >> yeah. and after i tried to eat that meal that night, you know, in that jail cell it surprised me, too, yeah. >> basically at that point you said, screw you, i'm staying until you say i'm not guilty. >> yeah. no, until i'm innocent.
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>> innocent. >> i just had to believe that as long as i had a belief in the truth and pursued that truth, that things were going to work out the best for me. >> but as greg sat waiting for the panel's verdict he still didn't know if the truth would set him free. sweetie i think you need a little extra fiber in your diet. carol. fiber makes me sad. oh common. and how can you talk to me about fiber while you are eating a candy bar? you enjoy that. i am. [ male announcer ] fiber beyond recognition. fiber one. a network of possibilities.
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the it was a moment more than 17 years in the making. >> we are entering the following decision of the three-judge panel. >> greg taylor was about to learn if a panel of three judges believed he was innocent. innocent of murder. >> the vote is unanimous, the panel shall enter a dismissal of all or any of the charges. >> after 6,149 days in jail. >> if theperson in this matter is ready for disposition, the decision. the judge rules that gregory taylor is innocent of the charge of first degree murder. and the charge of first degree murder of jaketa thomas on december 26, 1991 against gregory taylor is dismissed.
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[ cheers and applause ] >> you must have seen that picture of you living that moment. what were you thinking? >> >> all that frustration and confusion over all the years and all that hard work, you know, it just culminated in that one burst of release. and there was no way to script it or to prepare for it. i believe i just was conscious in the very beginning of just trying to breathe and not have a heart attack. >> everybody believed in you, son. that's what got you here. >> in a crush of reporters, greg taylor was released the same day. >> unbelievable. all these years, what this day would be like. 6,149 days. and finally the truth has prevailed.
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>> but taylor's case got two of those reporters wondering. how deep did the problems at the sbi go? >> we've covered a lot of cases of prosecutorial and police misconduct. some of them involve the sbi agents. and we've been saving string for years on this. but what really got our attention focused on the sbi was the case of greg taylor. >> raleigh news and observer reporters mandy locke and joe neff refewed more than 15,000 page es of documents in a month's long investigation of the sbi. they found sbi agents cut corners, bullied the vulnerable, and twisted reports and court testimony. >> there was language in their reports that told lab analysts how to testify in court in a way that most of us would agree favored the prosecution.
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they were told that a good testimony would enhance their conviction rate. >> problems with the sbi crime lab went far deeper than the taylor case. >> and in several cases, the work just seemed to be abysmal. we found that tests were done but the results were not reported. and so theefense never learned about them. >> in one case that came out at trial, a lab's test videotaped by the by the sbi shows an agent trying to replicate a blood stain in an effort to prove the prosecution's case. until they get it right. >> that's a wrap, baby. >> and the blood stain pattern unit its agent, a they had no policy for over 20 years to guide them, and b, they were just running the most bizarre, unscientific experiments to try to put people in prison for life. >> that's a wrap, baby. >> the agent heard in the video? duane deever, the same agent who failed to report greg taylor's second blood test.
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>> you'd hoped that these were isolated incidents. but clearly the more we dug the more we found that that wasn't the case. >> because it turns out greg taylor wasn't the only innocent person to spend time behind bars because of the north carolina state bureau of investigation. >> g, h, i, j, k. >> this is floyd brown, the man with the iq of a 7-year-old. >> keep going. >> floyd brown was a familiar figure here in downtown wades bro, north carolina. one of those guys you see hanging around the courthouse in a small town. he even became friends with the clerks there. took their paychecks to the banks for them. which is why it was such a shock when on july 16th, 1993, a sbi agent took floyd to jail.
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everyone love. >> everyone loved floyd. they knew he was slow. they knew what his intellectual deficits were. to them he was just a fixture. >> he had had run-ins with the police before, mostly for public drunkenness, once for assault. but now floyd was accused of robbing and killing 80-year-old catherine lynch here in her home. a witness told the sbi that a black man knew something about the murder. although floyd didn't match the description of that man, the sbi questioned him and said he had confessed. mike klinkesem and kelly deangelis, brown's lawyers, couldn't believe it. >> when you read that confession and when you saw floyd, did you instantly say, no way?
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>> yes. >> there's no mistaking that floyd could never in a million years make that confession. >> wednesday -- i mean monday. we go monday. >> you meet floyd and you just instantly know he doesn't have that capacity. he doesn't have the communication skills. >> because this is your next appointment. who are you meeting with? >> he doesn't have the knowledge. he could never speak with that much definition or detail. >> this doctor? >> yeah. >> this is the confession. six pages in the first person, handwritten by sbi agent mark eisley, who testified is was taken down verbatim. a transcript of what floyd had told him. the only thing floyd wrote down on his confession was his name spelled wrong.
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>> what specifics are we talking about that scream this guy did not say this? >> well, it starts at the first line where he supposedly started talking, my mama woke me up at 6:a.m. back then floyd could not tell time. >> it also said i live at this address. we know from records at that time floyd's never been able to recite his address. >> if you read the level of detail, if you read the structure of that confession, it reads like it's writn by someone investigating a crime scene. >> the confession was the lynch pin of a case with no physical evidence. >> was there any evidence whatsoever linking him to the crime? >> no. the only -- the only thing that puts floyd in this case at all is the fictional confession. >> but it was enough to charge floyd brown. coming up, an innocent man locked away for 14 years. >> floyd, did you kill that woman? >> no.
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i sure didn't. >> and later, hundreds of other cases where the crime lab withheld evidence. >> they're the prosecution's lab. they are not the justice system's lab. they are the prosecution's lab. [ dennis ] there's mayhem in the world. like it or not, it's a part of life. mayhem doesn't announce itself. it doesn't call ahead. mayhem doesn't care if you're on vacation
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in 1993, floyd brown was involuntarily committed here. dorothy a dicks mental hospital in wadesbro. >> they would have these evaluations. on the top of these follows it always says chief complaint. his chief complaint wasn't anything physical or mental that was wrong with him. it was always to the effect of i'm innocent. i want to go homed. >> i was framed. >> i was framed. >> chief complaint, i was framed. >> when he entered these doors he also entered in a kind of legal limbo, accused of murder but unable to have his day in court. floyd brown was developmentally disabled. he had the mind of a 7-year-old. and was ruled incompetent to stand trial. the only evidence against floyd was a confession he had signed,
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misspelling his own name. >> the details in that confession were so elaborate and so detailed that everyone who knows floyd -- his teachers from school and the doctors at dore these-a dicks believed he was incapable of writing that confession. >> the confession was written down by fbi agent mark isley. more than 20 times floyd's competence was evaluated. >> on top. >> six. >> each time he was judged unfit to stand trial. finally, after 14 years, floyd's lawyers got him a new hearing. >> this was the hearing where if we didn't win here we didn't really know what we were going to do. >> testifying about the confession was dr. mark hazelrig, one of floyd's psychiatrists at dorothya diks. >> the language he's not capable of giving on his own.
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>> the judge said i've heard everything i need to hear. i rule in favor of floyd and he can go. >> i don't think either one of us were prepared for that. >> i wasn't ready for him to rule from the bench. >> no. i was an incredible moment it was the best moment of my professional life so far easily. >> we were all hugging and so forth and i saw floyd and he was walking back into the holding cell. i followed him back and i said, where are you going? he said, court's over. i got to go back in here. >> but floyd was free. the judge dismissed the charges against him ruling there was nothing in the case, including the alleged confession that was convincing evidence. >> how long have you been living here, floyd? >> a long time. >> do you like it? >> yeah, like it. >> three years to the day after that release, floyd brown struggles to understand what happened. >> you knew weren't supposed to be there, right? >> yeah. i knew i wasn't supposed to be there. >> but you were there for 14
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years. >> yeah. >> that's a long time. >> yeah. >> floyd, did you kill that woman? >> no. i sure didn't. no. i ain't murdered nobody. >> okay. now you got to do this. >> floyd lives with a full-time caretaker whose one-on-one attention has helped him improve his level of functioning since his time at dorothy-ea diks. he has a job cleaning a school and he's now suing the state of north carolina with the help of attorney david rudolph. >> over the last 20 years a culture has developed at the sbi that basically the ends justify the means. and if law enforcement, local law enforcement tell the sbi that so-and-so is their man, then the sbi is going to go out and find whatever evidence they can. and if they can't find any, in floyd's case they couldn't, they manufactured it. >> floyd is still upset about his encounter with sbi agent mark isley.
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>> he's saying, i don't like your attitude. >> you speaking about mark isley? >> mark isley, yeah. he told me he don't like my attitude at all. i told him i didn't like his, neither. i got mad what he had did to me had locked me up for a crime i didn't do. >> even after questions were raised about isley's involvement in the floyd brown case, mark isley was promoted. now he's under investigation. we wanted to ask him about this, this six-page confession that he says floyd brown dictated to him verbatim. but isley's not talking. >> over the the years, mark isley climbed the ladder at the sbi. and today he supervises other sbi agents in the medicaid fraud unit. and his case wasn't even investigated internally by the sbi until later this summer
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after our series ran. >> the news and observer reporters weren't the only ones investigating the sbi. an outside expert, a former fbi agent, would find that floyd brown and greg taylor were just the tip of the iceberg. >> i'm about as hard-lined law enforcement as you can get. law and order, putting bad guys in jail. but what we saw was just not ri hey! you want that? you want a warm, super-delicious strawberry toaster strudel yeah but now i have nothing to eat sure you do. hey! you can have the pop tart! pillsbury toaster strudel. the one kids want to eat pillsbury toaster strudel. an accident doesn't have to slow you down.
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now free, his prayers answered, greg taylor is rebuilding his life, reconnecting with his daughter, getting to know his son-in-law, and a grandson. one of his first purchases? new glasses. he admits after 17 years in prison, freedom is overwhelming. >> you're just faced with so many things at one time. >> take the second right turn. >> you know, and they're all simple things. simple everyday things that people take for granted.
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but to somebody who's not lived out here for so long, it's a big deal to choose from a menu, to decide what to wear, to sleeping in a bed that is actually flat. but i tell you, you know what really the biggest thing is to me? i don't have to go through every waking minute saying, please get me out of here. >> taylor was released after a three-judge panel ruled he had been wrongly convicted of murdering a woman in 1993. wrongly convicted in part because the crime lab at the state bureau of investigation withheld evidence. >> they're the prosecution's lab. they are not the justice system's lab. they are the prosecution's lab. >> chris moomaw was taylor's attorney and runs the north carolina center on actual
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innocence. >> i think there's been a culture that lab in the legal department and the management and the leadership that we are here to convict. >> moomaw says it's a culture promoted by the fact that lab really does work for the prosecution, a practice the national academy of sciences says should end. north carolina is one of a dozen states around the country where the crime lab reports to the attorney general's office. only 11 states have labs totally independent of law enforcement. >> they should be independent, scientific organizations that are focused on the truth. and they can't be under the control of someone or some organization that might cause them to be biassed in their reporting. >> it's a lot bluer than it used to be. >> taylor's exoneration prompted north carolina attorney general roy cooper to order a massive review of 15,000 sbi crime lab
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cases involving blood analysis from 1987 through 2003. former fbi assistant director chris swecker was brought in to do that review. what he found was shocking. hundreds of cases like greg taylor's. >> there were 200 plus cases, over 230 cases, where reports were not complete, or reports didn't actually correspond to the laboratory notes, or information was not presented in the report that was in the laboratory notes as to the results of the test. >> swecker found the sbi suffered from a lack of objectivity, citing lab reports that were overstated, misleading or failed to mention evidence that could have helped the defense attorneys. >> i think a lot of analysts thought, look, their job is to get up to speed on this and cross-examine me effectively and they'll draw all this out. so i don't have to tell them
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everything at this point. they can learn that at trial if they call me to the witness stand. i would reverse the role here for a second and say, hey, laboratory analyst, what if you were on trial for your life? what would you want to know? >> now, just because the sbi withheld evidence doesn't mean those defendants were innocent. but they could have been. and three of the cases involve people who have since been executed. there are four more on death row. chris swecker's report covers just a single division of the sbi crime lab, one that dealt with blood testing. a full one of the entire lab hasn't been done. >> we don't know how many greg taylors are out there. and until the lab goes about performing an independent audit of every unit over as many years as would affect cases of people still alive, we'll never know. but we found enough problems to raise questions about the work in all of the cases.
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>> in the aftermath of that audit, north carolina attorney general roy cooper called for changes, like a new sbi director, higher standards and new certification for sbi scientists. and from now on, all lab reports must be posted online for prosecutors to see and for defendants to obtain through discovery. cooper described the audit as troubling. >> it describes a practice that should have been unacceptable then and is unacceptable now. there's clearly work to do. >> but neither cooper nor anyone else we requested from the doj would sit down and talk with us about what happened to greg taylor or floyd brown, saying in a statement their cases happened in the 1990s when none of the current leadership was in place. and that significant improvements have been made since then.
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out of prison for a year, greg taylor isn't sure what's next. for now he's living off a $750,000 settlement from the state. >> one person might say, gosh, that's a lot of money. another person might say it's a drop in the bucket compared to what you lived through. so what i did is i just broke it down to $5 an hour is what it came to. and i let people decide for themselves. >> in prison, he read 833 books. his favorite? "the count of monte cristo." >> he goes back to the prison that he escaped from and looks around that old cell he spent so much time in. and he says, woe to those who sent me to this wretched prison and woe to those who forgot i was there." >> having changed one life, chris moomaw is looking for the next forgotten prisoner, looking through those 200 cases from chris swecker's reports.